The Potential of the Unintentional
- Text by Lukas Feireiss
The eye of the beholder is constantly caught by seemingly trivial motifs of urban non-places. Pleasureless infrastructures and mute facades. Isolated bridgeways and silent arches. Tunnels into nowhere. Undetermined building details and anonymous interstitial spaces.
Rubén Dario Kleimeer's photographs of urban scenarios in Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Brussels, taken between 2018 and 2021, consistently declare the seemingly insignificant to be the essential. With great precision and artistic sensibility, the Rotterdam-based photographer takes on places in his hometown and abroad that are as significant as they are insignificant.
His rigorously and carefully conceived photographs present everyday situations of a built environment that seem banal at first glance. But these excerpts gain meaning in Kleimeer's work. The magic here is in the contradiction. The main thing is turned into the secondary, and the secondary into the main thing. We become witnesses of silent architectures of self-evident ordinariness that are eloquently expressed in profane urban landscapes. Kleimeer’s attitude towards the city, the everyday and the ordinary, presents an inclination to address what is there, to acknowledge what already exists, whilst at the same time offering an entirely different and subversive way of seeing it. His photographs deal with the here and now, with things that are real, solid and tangibly present, yet at the same with the exact opposite, namely that which is solely in our imagination. They can be seen as an invitation to follow the trail of what is there and what could be there potentially. by offering a different perception of reality. Making something out of something, Kleimeer sees a given spatial situation’s limitations as imaginary opportunities and not as confining possibilities.
More specifically, these imaginary views of the city’s non-places awaken new skateable structures in front of our eyes. Kleimeer, himself a skateboarder, unlocks multilayered meanings of space through the imaginary appropriation of built structures in his series of photographs. The performative critique of the constructed world through skateboarding is here translated into his applied photographic practice.
Empty of people and free of distortion, these urbanities appear almost object-like in the picture before an always overcast sky. Neither light nor shadow attract attention. The non-places stands still and quiet. It is not life and people but the built environment that vividly takes center stage in the photographs. Kleimeer attempts an exact survey of a spatial configuration in an explicitly factual and detailed manner. The perspective is frontal and unadulterated.
Despite this documentary sobriety of his extensive exploration of the urban space, Kleimeer succeeds in creating authentic photographs of high poetic quality, which seem to capture an imaginary potential of the unintentional. It is Kleimeer's unadorned view of the ordinary that teaches the viewer anew the poetry of the everyday in almost abstract-artistic compositions. The ability to overcome the confines of the passive experience of urban surroundings and actively explore the hidden potential of the unintentional opens up the prospect of discovering a world of difference. In this way, Kleimeer is actively engaged in the continuous renewal of the urban perspective.